We’re now approaching the end of The Hands Up Project certificate in Remote Theatre. It’s been a great course. With teachers from Argentina, Canada, Czechia, Mexico, Palestine, Serbia, and Syria participating it’s been really international and intercultural, and we’ve all learnt a lot about Remote Theatre – and indeed about its new variant with only one actor per webcam which we’re calling Lockdown Theatre
We’re now looking at ways of devising remote plays, and one way we’ve explored is a very simple, but highly personalised form – Your story…Our story. This is very loosely based on Playback theatre – a kind of semi spontaneous psycho-drama technique where audience members tell stories that are then spontaneously performed by the actors.
I’ve done basic Playback Theatre training and seen it used really well as a form of therapy, but I’m a language teacher not a therapist, and I wouldn’t feel qualified at all to deal with very traumatic issues if they came up. For our purposes, as language teachers I think it will work best if the stories are humorous and light or focus on positive, life changing events, rather than digging up very disturbing memories.
So last week I set it up by telling a personal story from my childhood which Imad and Irena then spontaneously performed. You can see the recording of this below. I think there’s something very engaging about seeing your own story performed by someone else, and something very useful may be happening in terms of language development. I certainly found it really interesting seeing my ‘marble mine’ story enacted in this way.
Then at the end of the session, I asked the participants to email me their own personal stories written down that we could use for this activity. This week I redistributed two stories to each small group of teachers – making sure they didn’t get their own story and without telling them whose stories they had.
They are now working on preparing a piece of remote theatre out of the stories (their favourite one, both of them, or, more challengingly, combining both stories into one) and these will be performed in the next few weeks.
So wherever you are in the world, if you’d like to get your students involved in this, doing Your Story, Our Story as a kind of online exchange with some students in Palestine, then please let us know and we’ll try to sort it out.